Vázquez-Rodríguez G.A., Beltrán-Hernández R.I., Lucho-Constantino C.A., Blasco J.A. 2008. A method for measuring the anoxic biodegradability under denitrifying conditions. Chemosphere, 71, 7: 1363-1368. ISNN: 0045-6535.
A test for assessing the anoxic biodegradability of organic compounds under denitrifying conditions is proposed. The method is based on the recovery and quantification of the CO2 produced, which is evidence of complete biodegradation of the test compound (added as the sole carbon source). The tests were carried out in a mineral medium, with nitrate as electron acceptor. Whole lake sediments, sediment extracts and a commercial inoculum were assayed as a possible inoculum source by means of glucose biodegradability tests. It was found that the sediment extracts constitute a suitable and environmentally-relevant inoculum source, since they add non-significant amounts of carbon to the tests. Two xenobiotic compounds, namely, aniline and phenol, were tested in the aforementioned conditions as well as in a standard aerobic biodegradability test. Both aniline and phenol attained a biodegradation level higher than 60% in a short time period (<28 days) and thus can be considered as readily biodegradable in denitrifying environments. Nevertheless, the kinetics obtained in the anoxic test were slower than in aerobic conditions, and even suggested the accumulation of intermediate metabolites in the case of phenol. The results of this study indicate that the fate of xenobiotic compounds under anoxic conditions differs from that observed in an oxic environment, and therefore it should be considered by standard biodegradability testing procedures.